Christmas tree allergies can stem from real and artificial trees, experts say

ByDenise Dador WPVI logo
Friday, December 22, 2023
Christmas tree allergies can stem from real and fake trees
If you're sneezing and scratching from allergies during the holidays, the culprit could be your Christmas tree. And experts say, Christmas Tree Syndrome can stem from real and artificial trees.

If you're into holiday decorating and you find yourself wheezing and sneezing a lot during this time of year, it's likely that the culprit is standing in your house right now. It could be real or it could be fake -- experts explain what Christmas Tree Syndrome is.

For millions of Americans, the holiday season is also a sneezy and scratchy season.

"My eyes get really scratchy and itchy. And then I get like, neck rashes and things.," said Lauren Urlich of Huntington Beach.

She gets her Christmas tree up right after Thanksgiving, could that be the cause of her allergies?

"I thought it was other trees. But I didn't know it was Christmas trees," said Carlota Fermin of Cerritos.

The condition has a name: Christmas Tree Syndrome. Christmas tree allergies aren't exactly what you think.

"When people bring in either an artificial or real tree, and then they notice some worsening of their allergy symptoms, asthma symptoms and just, you know, general irritation of the skin, eyes and nose," explained allergy and immunology expert, Dr. DeVon Preston with Cleveland Clinic.

He said pine tree allergies are relatively uncommon, but real trees can carry in weed pollen and mold. Even taking in the comforting pine smell can irritate your sinuses and lungs because of the chemical compounds present.

"I just enjoy a new tree, a fresh tree. And I love the smell of it when you come and walk inside your house," said Fermin.

If your family goes the artificial route, Preston said allergens like dust and mold can build up on the tree in storage. Experts suggest dusting your trees and using an air purifier.

"For symptom management, things like over-the-counter nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines or oral antihistamines can help with some of those symptoms," said Preston.

Zeroing in on where the allergens are coming from can help you target your symptom relief so itchy eyes and a runny nose don't ruin your holidays.

"It's just being hygienic with the kids and for yourself. I don't think it would dampen my Christmas spirit," Fermin said.

Preston adds it's probably best to get rid of real trees soon after the holiday since mold can continue to grow once they're indoors. Artificial trees and other holiday decorations should be stored in an airtight container to help keep them free of dust and mold.

MORE: Can you prevent allergies before they start? Here's what researchers found